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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Being a good sport

Many foreign residents in Japan, especially those who have started families, are familiar with undōkai 運動会, those school sporting competitions that sometimes see the parents get roped into the various activities. It turns out this phenomenon is thriving in Taiwan as well. My daughter's kindergarten held its first Sports Day beginning this morning at the ungodly-for-Sunday starting time of 8:50. Despite some initial misgivings on my part - being the only Western parent in attendance, not to mention being older than most of the other dads - it turned out to be pretty fun. Amber definitely had a good time - all that exertion from this morning knocked her out earlier than usual this evening.

Amber with one of her classmates and friends, "Carol". All of the kids in my daughter's class have English names, but Amber's is the only one that has any legal standing. 
 
This being East Asia, there were lots of lining ups, wearing of uniforms and chants in unison, all propelled by the use of personal amplification systems.

Among the events in which mother and daughter paired up was this "grass curling" race involving Nerf balls.

Dad didn't shirk his athletic responsibilities, either.

Pamela and Amber after the main event, a four-person relay race. Due to the condition of my knees, my running days are long behind me, so my wife had to take up the baton (literally). 
 
The elementary school where the sports day event was held still has a couple of statues of a certain dead dictator on its grounds, unfortunately.

In the afternoon, following a change of clothing at home, the three of us headed into T'aichung (Tái​zhōng) 台中, where we spent the afternoon inside the local branch of the Mitsukoshi Department Store 新光三越.
 
What did I learn from walking around the floors of Mitsukoshi? Well, I found out that Tōkyū Hands 東急ハンズ, a well-known Japanese department store that specializes in hardware and do-it-yourself materials, is called "Hands T'ailung" 台隆手創館 here in Taiwan.
 
The 10th floor of Mitsukoshi was the site of a special promotion featuring Taiwanese snack foods. I walked away with a box of traditional sweets, a parting gift for my long-suffering Mandarin teacher.
 
Amber poses with a leaf on one of Taiwan's numerous and little-used pedestrian bridges. Many locals, it seems, would rather take their chances crossing a busy road (like T'aichung's Chungkang Road 中港路) at street-level instead of actually having to climb, *gasp*, stairs.
 
The Orientalist in me just has to post this photo of a roadside duck meat stand in Fengyuan (Fēng​yuán) 豐原.





 






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